Help People Outside the US Understand Voting System

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by AX338, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. AX338 macrumors regular

    AX338

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    #1
    I'm spending too much time on kids.gov trying to understand and I can tell you 9 out of 10 Brits have no idea how the US electoral system works.

    I have figured that its all down to the ECV total of 270 out of the 530ish total available that gets the presidency but have some outstanding questions if anyone fancies giving them a go.

    1) What determines the number of Electoral College Votes a state gets? is it just based on population/ EG the more people in that state then the more college votes it has? Am I right in thinking the number of electors a state has is the number of people who will continue to congress?

    2) Are the people who represent the electors already sitting in Congress? or are these all new people? will lots of new people suddenly start appearing in Congress? what happens to the old people? how long do these electors in congress last for? the same duration as the presidency ie 4 years?

    3) Where do senators come from?...there are 100 right?...are they elected separately?

    4) If the president wants to pass a law am I right in thinking it has to be voted thru by both the house of representatives and the senate before it becomes law?

    5) If Clinton wins does that naturally mean there will be more Democrats in Congress than republicans and vice versa for Trump?

    Thanks for any help with this!
     
  2. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #2
    Same # of congressional delegation of the state. One for each representative in the house + 2 (senators).

    They are not in Congress. They are nominated by the state legislatures.

    For the US Congress, it's 2 senators per state. 50 states x 2 senators = 100 total senators.
    State Congresses, it depends on the state

    President can't pass any law. That's the duty of Congress.

    No. The US gov't is composed by three separate branches. Executive (PResident), Legislative (Congress), Judiciary (Supreme Court).
    From an electoral standpoint there is no relation between the three branches. You can have a D president with a R congress.
     
  3. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #3
    1)Based on population. Determined by census every decade.

    2)new people
    Electors meet in their respective state capitals, not DC, for the purpose of electing the potus.

    3)Got nothing to do with the general election.

    4)Depends (for executive orders) potus can't pass laws.

    5)No
     
  4. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #4
    Each state gets 1 elector per member of Congress, which is based on population.

    Electors may or may not be elected officials. States choose them differently.

    Each state gets 2 Senators. They are elected to six year terms. House terms are 2 years.


    Correct.

    Based on current projections, the Democrats will control the Senate and Republicans the House.
     
  5. Populism macrumors regular

    Populism

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    #5
    #4 - This may be your most important question. Generally, the President doesn't pass laws - only signs them into law when Congress hands the bill to him/her. BUT, a president can and frequently does send troops to war, regardless of whether it is technically correct. Further - and in ways equally frightening - presidents have been using "executive orders" to legislate. The idea of an executive order is that it is supposed to be power given to the president to push through small laws/orders in furtherance of properly passed laws. But for decades this concept has eroded, and the angrier either "side" gets about the "other side", the more fiery a president gets in using executive orders to de facto change law.

    Anyway, good questions. I'm embarrassed by my own limited understanding of WTF the point of the electoral college is in a day and age where vote results aren't carried through the night to Washington DC on horseback.
     
  6. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #6
    I had to use all my strength not to get into this topic! Damn'd ya!
     
  7. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #7
    https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html

    It is a special number -- number of senators plus number of representatives. So, every state, no matter how small, gets three. The vote for President is weighted towards small population states. To get elected President, you have to have broad geographic appeal since each state is determined separately.

    Senators are elected by state. Two per state, regardless of state population.

    Yes.

    No, they are separate. It sometimes happens that a President is elected without winning the total popular vote, because each state is handled separately. It happens fairly often that one party or the other, sometimes both, are different from the party of the President.

    The simplest analogy is that the U.S. is like the EU -- what people used to call an empire -- made up of individual states. Every state has its own government. The U.S. Constitution places limits on what the Federal government and the individual state governments can do, and somewhat determines the interactions. This has been a constant source of political tension from the very beginning, and resulted in one major war, the Civil War, 1861-1865.
     
  8. tgara macrumors 6502a

    tgara

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    #8
    All legislation starts in Congress (Senate or House), but any legislation that is directed to raising revenue (tax matters, etc.) must start in the House of Representatives. Once the legislation is finalized by the Congress, it goes to the President who can either sign it (where it becomes law) or veto it (no law). The interplay between the Congress and the President is called Checks and Balances.

    The president can suggest or propose certain legislation, but it falls to the Congress to take it up or not as an initial matter. As far as the lawmaking process goes, all the President can do is either sign bills or veto them.
     
  9. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #9
    And Congress can override a veto, as it just did last month.
     
  10. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #10
    Simple. The U.S. population votes and the oligarchy decides who wins while everybody pretends the election actually mattered.
     
  11. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #11
    Good morning Mr. Cynicism!
     
  12. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #12
    Somewhat correct. Executive orders are actually nothing new, and are actually rarer now than they used to be -- the President has multiple jobs. One job is running foreign policy and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. Another job is running the Federal government. As chief executive of the Federal government, the President gets to direct the operation of the government. If you want to look at the chart below, the real outliers were probably Republicans William Howard Taft, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge -- no major wars, no major depression. "Go figure."

    For example, to pick a nice, controversial topic -- Congress appropriates a certain budget for the Immigration, a certain staff size. Let's say that budget and staff size are fairly limited. Let's say the President issues an executive order prioritizing the deportation of convicted criminals ahead of the deportation of students. Let's say that really bothers some people, who view the students as more of threat to their way of life than the criminals.

    [​IMG]

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/every-presidents-executive-actions-in-one-chart/
     
  13. AX338 thread starter macrumors regular

    AX338

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    #13
    Thanks for all the replies, am slowly understanding.

    Another question:

    I read this...."Citizens of the United States do not directly elect the president or the vice president; instead they choose "electors", who usually pledge to vote for particular candidates."

    California, for example has 55 electoral college votes, on voting day what will Joe Average see on his ballot paper?..will he see the names of 55 electors and be asked to chose one?....how does it work?
     
  14. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #14
    The voter selects his preference (Trump/Clinton/Johnson/Stein/etc.).
    The electoral college takes up all the preferences and, as a delegation, reports it to Washington DC. Therefore, were Clinton to win CA, the 55 electors would report "Clinton."
     
  15. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #15
    I can't speak for every state, but, in all the states that I have voted in, you vote just for President/VP as one item. You seldom hear about the electors. Theoretically, in a close, three/four way race, where more than two candidates won states, the electors could actually matter.
     
  16. AX338 thread starter macrumors regular

    AX338

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  17. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #17
  18. tunerX Suspended

    tunerX

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    #18
    Executive/Presidential Memorandums are making up the difference. Presidents now use memos with some of the same authority as an order.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/waynecr...inal-state-of-the-union-address/#6be331c141bc

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...idential-memoranda-executive-orders/20191805/
     
  19. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #19
    Technically speaking a memo has absolutely no validity. Of course the hierarchical weight still exists, I don't think that I would read a Presidential memo and just disregard it.
     
  20. tunerX Suspended

    tunerX

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    #20
    Actually it does have validity because of precedent. If the president enters the memorandum in the federal register it has the force and effect of law, which is the same as an executive order.


    CRS-20

    http://www.llsdc.org/assets/sourcebook/crs-exec-orders-procs.pdf

    And if the president doesn't enter it in the register it still has the bully effect and nobody objects.
     
  21. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #21
    One heck of a great document. Thank you!!!! Already added to PDF Expert on my iPP!! I will definetly read it!

    Wouldn't publishing a memorandum in the FR make it an executive order by definition?
     
  22. curmudgeonette macrumors 6502

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    #22
    If the president wants some specific legislation, then the prez has to find a member or members of the house and of the senate to actually introduce the bill. This actually happens quite often. Usually, the legislators involved are not famous.
     
  23. tgara macrumors 6502a

    tgara

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    #23
    What about signing statements? Those have turned into a whole new kettle of fish recently!
     
  24. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #24
    Good question. I never even heard of signing statements until Bush II, but, Obama uses them also. Regardless, when I was a kid, the distinctive feature of the US government compared to others was the system of checks and balances that prevented things from lurching too fast, as compared with the postwar UK, Italy, etc., where a new parliament/PM etc., could really almost mean a revolution. Many executive orders, &etc, and signing statements, and all these other squabbles, have to do with the fact that the branches of government are perpetually out of sync. But, we had the assurance that somebody like Trump couldn't happen. Now that we have lost that assurance, I keep wondering if a parliamentary system would work better.
     
  25. Herdfan macrumors 6502

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    #25
    This will depend on the state. In some states they are chosen by state party and in some they are on the ballot similar to convention delegates. So in some states voters must make their choice for President and a choice for electors.

    But note, electors are usually pledged to a party, not a candidate. So for example if Hillary wins on election night, but is indicted before the EC meets the "Monday after the Second Wednesday in December" (who came up with that?) then the electors could vote for Kaine for President.

    Some states require electors to vote for whom they are pledged, some do not. But given that the vast majority are party insiders, it usually is not a problem.

    Also 2 states (ME and NE) have IMHO a better system for distributing electors. The winner of the state gets what amounts to the 2 "Senators" votes and the winner of each Congressional District gets 1 vote. So in Maine which has 4 electoral votes, it is possible that Clinton could get 3 and Trump 1 if he wins ME-2.

    And the reason I think it is better is that it would make candidates campaign all over the country and not just in the few battleground states.
     

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